It’s always really exciting to read books and see talks from people who have been on amazing adventures around the world. Often our reaction is a wistful longing, wishing that we could do something similar ourselves – if only we had enough money, less commitments and some way to pay the mortgage while we take a chunk of time away from the day job.
These big adventures are incredible to hear about, but they’re not the only way we can bring fun and excitement into our lives. Adventure can be anything from going for a walk in a new area, to going on a taster session for a new activity, right through to taking several years to travel round the world by human power only. It’s all about our mindset and stepping out of our comfort zones – and that will be different for each and every one of us.
Winter can often be a time when we outdoor enthusiasts hunker down, light the fire, bring a bit of hygge into our lives and dream/plan our adventures for the following year. The days are shorter, the weather colder and the temptation to say inside is greater.
So if you’re looking for a little inspiration to tempt you away from the sofa this winter, check out these 5 ideas for a wild adventure close to home:
1. Walk up a hill for sunrise
There’s something really calming about being high in the hills for a sunrise. Often, you’re the only person there and watching the day unfold with the changing colours, sometimes with a cloud inversion below is something worth seeing.
However, plan it for summer and you’ll be getting out of bed for a sunrise around 4am. Make it the middle of winter and you’ll get a whopping 4 hours extra in bed.
You could incorporate a sunrise with sleeping outdoors (number 4 in the list), or you could grab your trusty head torch and head out while it’s still dark.
Want to make it even more fun – take the camp stove with you and cook breakfast while you’re there.
2. Go solo
If that’s you, have a go at doing your bike ride, walk or camping trip on your own (make sure you have the skills and experience needed to stay safe). I can guarantee it will add a different dimension to your day and give you that little thrill of adventure.
Over the years, I’ve often gone out walking or mountain biking on my own and I finally ticked the box of my first solo wild camp back in December 2015 (more here).
I’ll admit that having a bad mountain bike accident in summer 2016 has increased my feelings of vulnerability, but a solo walk or bike ride is still something I enjoy from time to time.
My top tip if you’re thinking about a solo trip is to start off with the familiar and give yourself lots of opt outs along the way – plus let someone know where you are and when you get back.
If you’re a lone female, safety is also something to consider. I read a great article online (link here) a couple of years ago which completely backed up my own thoughts. I actually feel safer outdoors the further I get away from civilisation, then it’s just my own imagination to deal with!
3. Go at night
However, if you grab yourself the right equipment, there’s no reason to stop .
Strong head torches mean that you can go walking or running in unlit areas at night (keep safety in mind and go with someone else or let someone know where you are and when you’ll be back).
Good strong bike lights (helmet, front light and rear light) mean that you can still go out mountain biking on your local trails. It’s such a different experience to when you ride the same trail during the day time (read here to see what I thought about my first experience) and I guarantee it will feel like an adventure.
4. Sleep outside
Ok, so it can be uncomfortably cold if you have to get up in the night to visit the toilet – and it can be tough hammering those tent pegs into ground which has frozen solid – but these things just add to the experience (“character building” as one of my friends would say) and give you stories to tell.
Camping in winter can be a really cosy experience. If you’re car camping, pack loads of duvets and blankets and your tent will feel warm and toasty. I remember camping with my sister one January and we had so many layers underneath that we felt like the “Princess and the pea”.
Choose a campsite which has heating in the facilities and it will be a whole lot more comfortable if you decide to go for a shower. Better still, choose a campsite which has a fab pub within walking distance. For years, a group of us camped in the Lake District on the closest weekend to Christmas. I absolutely loved going for a winter walk, then piling into the pub at 3pm for mulled wine in front of an open fire, followed by a turkey dinner (it’s my all time favourite meal so no problem with overloading on turkey dinners in December).
However, having an adventure sleeping outside can be as simple as sleeping out in your garden. I remember one balmy summer evening, having a glass of wine in the hammock and then deciding we’d stay outside for the rest of the night. That said, it’s not something I’d repeat in winter unless it was with a bivvy bag and tarp or tent.
As far as wild camping goes, my only winter experience so far has been on a milder December day. Taking my tent into the hills on a snowy day is still on my own bucket list, maybe in conjunction with a night ride on my mountain bike – watch this space.
5. Take the train
One of my favourite trips was while staying in the Fort William area and booking our bikes onto the train to Corrour. Stepping off the train at the highest mainland station in the UK (only accessible by train or foot/bike), you are cast right into the heart of the mountains, yet the journey could not be any easier.
Once there, you have several options – bag a Munro, cycle round the Loch on easy wide tracks, cycle back to your starting point (bit more of an epic, especially in winter). There’s an added bonus on this trip – a superb cafe at Corrour station house and overnight accommodation either there or at the SYHA by the loch.
Hopefully, these ideas will have given you some inspiration for your own adventures this winter. Would love to hear about them in the comments – and add some more to my own bucket list.
Happy adventures 🙂